23 Things Every Irish Person Remembers From Their J1

The J1 is an Irish rite of passage and everybody fortunate to do one, fondly looks back on these 23 memories. Well, for the most part. Coming home from a J1 with more stories to tell than Grampa Simpson, your stay-at-home friends will instantly recoil with jealousy.

How many of THESE things do you remember from your J1?

23. Sleeping with a foreigner.

Ah yes, your J1 is the best time of your life and the most acceptable period to "slut it up." Mission accomplished! Take your love-making overseas, just pray that you don't leave your Irish jeans behind. Oh, er, I mean genes...

22. Spent a night passed out in a random place.

Whether on a beach, your boss's couch, a kitchen floor or outside your front door because you forgot your keys again, this is something that we've all fell victim too.


20. Started a chant while riding on the public transport.

"And number ONEEEEEEEE is GARY BRIEN" Yes it is true we all dream of a team of Gary Briens when we're on our J1s! But there's nothing that will set your mood more alight while pre-drinking on a train than a thunderous rendition of The Rattlin' Bog! It's good craic the first couple of times, but come the end of August you're fit to kill anyone who starts singing about "the bog down in the valley-0." But seriously, Americans LOVE that shit!

19. Had to explain to at least one American that leprechauns aren't real.

Sadly, the majority of us have actually had to explain this unfortunate fact to some disappointed Americans. And feel a little guilty for shattering their existence, looking into their sad eyes as they discover that the ginger, dwarf-like mythical creatures actually don't exist.


18. Forgetting to call your parents to tell them you're still alive.

Having your parents tear the head off you because you haven't called in 5 days. Answering the phone either still drunk or hungover to shreds because of the time difference and trying to calm your worrying mother down is a mammoth task at the time.

17. Travelling over 3,000 miles only to shift someone in the same college class as you.

Hopes are high when you fly out from The Emerald Isle, dying to taste some of the American cuisine. However it all goes south when you come home only after shifting some of the same people you share a lecture hall with back at college. Ah well...


16. Grown a sudden allegiance to an American sports team.

We all like to participate in our local teams, however awful they may be. But hey, at least we bring a bit of atmosphere to the stadiums! American fans are desperate!

15. Receiving desperate care packages from your mammy at home.

Having your mammy send over a care package full of Lyons Tea, Cadbury's Dairy Milk bars, and a family pack of glorious Tayto crisps because you've cleaned your bank account out after just 3 weeks in the US!


14. Having sunburn for 3 whole months.

It doesn't take us Irish long to get a nice even burn - 2 hours ought to do it for most! Then we immediately regret our poor decision while we beg our roommates to lube us up at night with some aloe vera to ease the pain. But we never learn our lesson do we? Still, it's worth it after all that dead skin peels off and you arrive home with a glorious rich mahogany tan, showing off in front of your friends and family like the Greek god that you are. Boom!

13. Either totally tarnished or massively boosted the Irish reputation abroad.

It's one or the other. We Irish are an infectious bunch and let's face it, the Americans do already love us! However, every summer, we flee the American cities like a murderer away from the scene of a crime. Like human wrecking balls, we came, we saw, we conquered, then left. 90% of the time we do leave a great impression among the Americans, but there are a few who are left with a sour taste in their mouths.  And to those, the sincerest of apologies!


12. Putting on at least 2 stone in weight.

Remember checking yourself out in the mirror and wondering where those love handles came from? Probably from all those 7/11 hot dogs, McDonald's burgers and late night Taco Bell Burritos! Funny how some of the lads actually lost weight while some of the girls put it on. Sweet, sweet metabolism!

11. Totally resonating with the lyrics of The Coronas' "San Diego Song."

Yep, sure give it a listen now. The Coronas wrote this song while on their J1 in California's beautiful San Diego. Don't lie, you can TOTALLY identify with it, can't you?


10. Having the super-human strength to drink 92 days in a row.

It wasn't easy, but you did it. Possibly one of the greatest achievements of your adolescent lives - it's something we should all be proud of. It was no easy road but getting there in the end is ALMOST worth the several night's spewing up into a bin, frequent blackouts, ultimate fear and near-liver failure. Almost. Although we can't even fathom going through all that hell again!

9. Spoken more Irish than you ever have in your life.

All them years learning Irish. You think you'll never use it again and that you've completely forgotten it all, but you're wrong. Stateside is where it all regurgitates out. It's frequently used as a subtle reminder that you're Irish and a great weapon for pulling members of the opposite sex. The beauty of As Gaeilge. "Tá é an-mhaith!" See? Still got it!

8. Getting  reprimanded by law enforcement.

Whether doing something as ridiculous as walking through the street with a can in your hand or something more extreme like hopping over the counter in McDonald's at 3am and starting to serve your friends, there's been a few Irish who have been reprimanded by the police. Never a good idea.

7. Shared a house with 30 people.

Good Lord, cramped is not the word. "Ah sure look, it's only 3 months." Going to sleep in a space the size of a medium mattress is not comfortable in the slightest, especially when you're sharing it with someone else on those drunken nights. But you'll never appreciate your own bed than the day you arrive home from your J1. Still to this day, the best sleep I've ever had!


6. Took the piss out of some gullible Americans.

I couldn't believe how far we actually managed to push this thing! "You guys are lucky - electricity is a privilege we don't have at home", "the legal age of drinking for us is 12 years-old" or my personal favourite, "we don't have Wednesdays in Ireland." All lapped up like a kitten with some fresh milk!

5. Showed up for their summer job still drunk (on numerous occasions).

Working 4-5 days a week and drinking 7 days a week has its obvious repercussions. Arriving in to your morning shift having not slept or showered from the night before and still wreaking off alcohol is one of the lowest points of your J1, but we've all done it. Only to go home, take a power nap and do it all again that next night. It's a perfect diagnosis of J1 FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

4. Been technically "homeless" for a short period of time.

That time you spent drifting from apartment to apartment with no summer house in sight. It was only a couple of days but it felt like a never-ending nightmare at the time!

3. Had to explain where "Ireland" is to an American.

No it's not in the UK, no it's not beside Austrailia and NO it's not "somehere over at the west coast." Without a map, you'll be knackered trying to explain to a geographically-inept American where Ireland is actually located.

2. Took a wrong turn somewhere and accidentally ended up in the ghetto.

Taking that wrong left turn, different colour train line or incorrect bus route and winding up in the middle of what looks like Compton is a frightening time. You'll stick out like a sore thumb. A sore, sunburnt, ginger thumb, and you'll immediately want to get the hell out of there!

1. Adapted a slight American accent.

Sometimes you just can't help it. I mean, there's only so many times you can repeat yourself to someone before losing it! Therefore, you have to suck it up, and put on a slight American twinge about your accent. Oh the horror...

Alan Condon

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